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Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back Hardcover – September 24, 2013


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 1010L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 50 Anv edition (September 24, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060256753
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060256753
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

First published in 1963, the late Shel Silverstein's children's book debut Lafcadio: The Lion Who Shot Back, will resonate with young readers much as it did 40 years ago. The affable narrator Uncle Shelby's story begins: "Once there was a young lion and his name was--well, I don't really know what his name was because he lived in the jungle with a lot of other lions and if he did have a name it certainly wasn't a name like Joe or Ernie or anything like that." That all changes, however, when a circus man discovers the lion's skills as a marksman (the lion took a gun from a hunter he ate) and names him Lafcadio the Great. When the circus man takes Lafcadio to New York City, the story takes on a certain Crocodile Dundee quality--the lion eats the menu at a fancy restaurant, demands marshmallows (he likes the sound of them), and is captivated by the hotel elevator. As Lafcadio becomes more civilized and rich and famous, however, he becomes more unhappy. In the end, to entertain the increasingly despondent star, the circus man takes Lafcadio hunting in Africa where he encounters his old lion friends on the other end of his gun. Is Lafcadio now a man or is he a lion? He decides he is neither and wanders alone into the valley. In typical Silverstein style, this exuberantly-silly-yet-poignant fable, illustrated with simple, expressive line drawings, asks more questions than it answers. The glee the author derives from wordplay and the sound of language is positively contagious. This read-aloud classic belongs on every child's bookshelf. (Ages 6 to 10) --Karin Snelson

From the Back Cover

"You don't have to shoot me," says the young lion. "I will be your rug and I will lie in front of your fireplace and I won't move a muscle and you can sit on me and toast all the marshmallows you want. I love marshmallows."

But the hunter will not listen to reason, so what is there for a young lion to do? After eating up the hunter, Lafcadio takes the gun home and practices and practices until he becomes the world's greatest sharpshooter.

Now dressed in starched collars and fancy suits, and enjoying all the marshmallows he wants, Lafcadio is pampered and admired wherever he goes. But is a famous, successful, and admired lion a happy lion? Or is he a lion at all?

Told and drawn with wit and gusto, Shel Silverstein's modern fable speaks not only to children but to us all!


More About the Author

"And now, children, your Uncle Shelby is going to tell you a story about a very strange lion- in fact, the strangest lion I have ever met." So begins Shel Silverstein's very first children's book, Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back. It's funny and sad and has made readers laugh and think since it was published in 1963. It was followed the next year by three more books. The first of them, The Giving Tree, is a moving story about the love of a tree for a boy. Shel returned to humor the same year with A Giraffe and a Half, delighting readers with a most riotous ending. The third book in 1964 was Uncle Shelby's Zoo Don't Bump the Glump! and Other Fantasies, Shel's first poetry collection, and his first and only book illustrated in full color. It combined his unique imagination and bold brand of humor in this collection of silly and scary creatures. Shel's second collection of poems and drawings, Where the Sidewalk Ends, was published in 1974. His recording of the poems won him a Grammy for best Children's Album. In this collection, Shel invited children to dream and dare to imagine the impossible, from a hippopotamus sandwich to the longest nose in the world. With his next collection of poems and drawings, A Light in the Attic, published in 1981, Shel asked his readers to turn the light on in their attics, to put something silly in the world, and not to be discouraged by the Whatifs. Instead he urged readers to catch the moon or invite a dinosaur to dinner- to have fun! A Light in the Attic was the first children's book to break onto the New York Times Bestseller List, where it stayed for a record-breaking 182 weeks. The last book that was published before his death in 1999 was Falling Up (1996). Like his other books, it is filled with unforgettable characters. Shel Silverstein's legacy continued with the release of a new work,Runny Babbit, the first posthumous publication conceived and completed before his death and released in March 2005. Witty and wondrous, Runny Babbit is a poetry collection of simple spoonerismsH, which twist the tongue and tease the mind. Don't Bump the Glump! And Other Fantasies was recently reissued in 2008 after being unavailable for over 30 years. Shel was always a believer in letting his work do the talking for him--few authors have ever done it better.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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It is well written and very funny.
K. Pullen
We love Shel Silverstein and are really excited about reading this book.
Bri
I bought this for my son to read to my grand daughter.
C. Tschappat

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Kendra on May 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I hadn't heard of this book until a few years ago, when I came upon it and read a few pages in the bookstore. WOW!!! Although I appreciate Shel Silverstein's other stories and poems, nothing at all is like this one. And, that's a disappointment, because after reading this one to my children, we wanted MORE.

In my kids' schools, the Giving Tree was always considered such a classic, and praised as such. Lafcadio? Never mentioned! How disappointing, and oh, what those students are missing. Lafcadio isn't even in the school's library catalogue!

Lafcadio tells the story of a lion who comes to the city and becomes a gentleman--losing his lionly ways. But, Shel Silverstein tells this story so hilariously, I can barely read it aloud without laughing hysterically. I used to read this to my son, and literally could not get the words out without laughing uncontrollably. This, of course, caused my son to laugh as heartily without even knowing why. . . begging me to stop laughing and to tell him what was so funny. Lafcadio is an experience, that's for sure!

That said, this isn't a completely gentle book. It's probably the only book I've read to the kids that talked about eating people--and, made eating people funny. However, the unexpected quirkiness of the story is also what made it so hilarious. This is really a classic. Your kids will love it and you will love it.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Eric Brotheridge on March 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I was exposed to this book by a 3rd grader who loved it and was reading it for the umpteenth time. I read it with my daughters, ages 4 and 6, who also loved it. I loved it too! The story is timeless and can be read at many, many levels. The pictures throughout are wonderful, depicting Lafcadio in the absurdly funny scenarios told in the story; enough pictures to hold the interest of a young one with a challenging story for those older.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 26, 1997
Format: Hardcover
I grew up thinking this was Silverstein's best book and was shocked to eventually discover that it was almost completely unknown. Subtler than The Giving Tree, Lafcadio illustrates a crucial message in delicately simple line drawings and horrible puns. While Lafcadio is superficially about "success," it delves into our self-definitions and the contradictions forced upon individuals by society. Despite its light, witty tone, it addresses stereotypes and rebellion in easily accessible terms. Every time I reread this book -- and I have cried over it many, many times -- I found a new level on which it related to my own life.
When Lafcadio is ultimately forced to choose between mutually exclusive groups with mutually exclusive destinies, he realizes that he wants neither of those implicit destinies for himself. He can be neither a lion nor a hunter. Unable to decide, he walks away from both. Although it almost glosses over violence in the opening scenes, this only serves to heighten the horror of Lafcadio's final quandary. Here the simplicity of the illustrations only reinforces the universality of Silverstein's message.
With its disquieting ending, Lafcadio forms an apt parable for the dilemmas faced by adults, but especially by children in our society. It applies subtly to both classroom cliques and the former Yugoslavia, both contemporary violence and peer pressure, both finding one's path and watching helplessly as others find theirs. As such, Lafcadio provides both cameraderie and empathy, on a level that readers of all ages can understand.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By "intentaccess" on April 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is an exceptional book for all ages. Silversteins wonderful illustrations and humor are throughout this book. But the message is what makes this book so wonderful. It is a story about a lion but what this lion is dealing with child experience and grow up with this peer pressure and then the consequences we must pay for our action. This is a great book that everybody should read. Shel Silverstein has the most original way to get this message across and the humor with this book and how he describes " Uncle Shelby " is very insightful!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By G. Powell on December 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I discovered this treasure after reading Shel's poetry books to the kids. I read it to them on a long flight across the country and had the people in the seats around me listening in discreetly. It has some great morals and gems in it. About knowing who you are inside and finding your way in this world. And about the absurdity of hunting from the lion's point of view. The kids just love the bit about every lion having their own hunter's rug.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Brent Summerlin on June 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am reading this book for the 100th time but I am reading it for the first time to my new son. My mother first read me Lafcadio in 1978. I made here reread it over and over. Now I am shareing it with my son Garrett. I hope he askes me to read it 100 times to him.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Our teacher read Lafcadio to us and we loved the story (and Lafcadio). We liked all the marshmallow parts--especially the marshmallow suit part. We thought his love of riding elevators very funny. There are also good life lessons in this book. We hope you will read and enjoy it as much as we did.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By chupchup on October 14, 2004
Format: Library Binding
This book is about a lion named Lafcadio, who learnt to shoot using a gun and began shooting back at hunters - hence the name of the book! The story started when Lafcadio got hold of a hunter's gun and began learning to shoot. He practiced shooting day and night, and he got better and better as the days go by. He is never short of ammunition. To get more ammunition, he just eats up hunters who come into the jungle !!

Then one day, a man from the circus came and offered him a job in the circus. He accepted it with the condition that he get lots and lots of MARSHMALLOWS !!

So, off goes Lafcadio to the city. At the city, Lafcadio tried many different things. He had a haircut at a barbershop. He had a suit made of MARSHMALLOWS for him. And as the days passes, he came more and more human. He learnt to dance, swim and even bowl..

The story is full of wit. If you are looking for a gift for your little one, I would highly recommend this book!
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